March 13th, 2014


The Bridges of Madison County

Not finding the way into this...well, let's start with some good things. Kelli O'Hara!!! Using an unexpected part of her voice, with a mezzoish quality I wouldn't have guessed she had. And Steven Pasquale, beefy and hairy and not complaining that Kelli's music is way better. And the setting is nicely done, just a wide open space, fragments of sets brought in and struck by the ensemble in a stylized furniture ballet—director Bartlett Sher with his frequent collaborators Michael Yeargan, Catherine Zuber and Donald Holder, with really terrific sound by Jon Weston. And Jason Robert Brown's score that's really a score, a whole piece even as it makes some window detours and encompasses a broad range of styles it always finds a way back into itself.

I'm a little dubious about seeing so much of Francesca's family, but I see their dramatic purpose—the show isn't just about the moment, but about the dilemma it presents Francesca and why she ultimately makes the choice she does. And yet I think the show could end with the choosing, rather than going on to a big WTF number and then a long, manipulative results finale. I don't remember how much of either of those things is in the book (I don't remember much of the book at all), but invented for the stage or not, I thought them a bit much.

It's not quite a you-should-go, but there's a lot more good than bad and a lot of the good is quite good. Certainly Kelli's superb performance is well worth seeing. And the theatre had a very nice renovation while it was dark.